Home décor idea: Modern Victorian

Modern Victorian is a transitional interior design and décor style that dilutes Victorian era elements with modern ones to create a new and fresh hybrid look that is more palatable to contemporary tastes.

In this post we have chosen a different sort of modern Victorian look for each room of the house to give you a range of ideas and inspiration as to how you could makeover a room to give it a fresh lease on life. 


Description: Exuberant pink entry hall. I like the paneling and the black lacquer stairs that fan out at the bottom

Image by Francesco Lagnese

This entryway is part of a C19th-century Brooklyn house. The bold choice of paint colour combined with intricate Victorian pieces make for a fun and charming yet elegant and sophisticated interior.

Modern elements:

  • cerise pink paint
  • black lacquer stairs
  • rug

Victorian elements:

  • chandelier
  • wainscoting
  • gilded table
  • elaborate cornice (Our Royal Elizabeth Cornice would fit in perfectly!)
  • picture frame
  • China vase
  • Eastern accessories

Transitional piece:

  • Occasional chair

A transitional piece blends together two different styles into one item. Here we have an old occasional chair reupholstered with a decidedly modern print. While we’re not necessarily a fan of this particular print, note the bold mix of the fabric pattern with the intricate pattern of the China vase – this sort of non-traditional pattern mixing is very on trend right now.

Elaborate chandeliers are very Victorian, that being an age where more was indeed considered more. And for anyone who knows their history, objects from the East are also very ‘Victorian’ in such a setting, as the latter were fascinated by what to them were exotica.

Living room

Description: unapologetically modern furnishings and art

Image via apartmenttherapy.com

This Boston living room is elegant and cosy, and its tone easily replicated, particularly if you have an elaborate fireplace as a starting point.

Modern elements:

  • armchair, throw and cushion
  • art
  • vases and accessories
  • carpet

Victorian elements:

  • fireplace
  • picture frame
  • wall paper


Description: Modern Victorian by Wendy Posard

Interior by Wendy Posard, image via interiorsdigital.com

This kitchen has an understated design, blending Victorian and modern features seamlessly.

Modern elements:

  • granite countertops
  • cupboards

Victorian elements:

  • Victorian kitchen mixer tap
  • extractor hood
  • cornice

Transitional element:

  • inverted bell jar pendant light with faux lights

The cornice here is similar to DAS’s Classic Cornice, which will fit over any standard 75 mm cove cornice already in place. The inclusion of fresh flowers – profuse and wild in arrangement – helps to break up any possible sense of austerity.

Dining room

Description: A Sneak Peek Inside The Paris Apartment of Mick Jagger and L'Wren Scott.

While most of us do not necessarily have the high ceiling, walls and large space afforded here – this photo is of the Paris apartment of Mick Jagger and the late L'Wren Scott – there are some style elements we can certainly appropriate to give our own dining rooms a similarly classy modern Victorian look.

Modern elements:

  • plastic chairs
  • metal-legged table

Victorian elements:

  • cornice and wall treatments
  • Persian rug
  • ceiling rose and chandelier
  • stone fireplace
  • ornate mantelpiece accessories
  • gilded mirror
  • cabinet (find right word)

When you make any list like this, you will find that one style predominates over the other. In this case, the Victorian elements clearly outweigh the modern ones. This is a good thing. It’s usually best to adopt a dominant style and then choose very selectively from the other style to provide some contrasting pieces. Such a method will take your décor from the ordinary and transform it into a bewitching hybrid style.


Description: http://img1.sunset.timeinc.net/sites/default/files/image/2012/02/bedroom-makeover-borrowed-mantelpiece-headboard-0212-l.jpg

Image by Thomas J. Story

Modern elements:

  • lamps
  • bench
  • linen

Victorian elements:

  • bedside tables
  • mantelpiece-style headboard

Transitional element:

  • floral wallpaper in orange

Detailed wallpaper was very popular with Victorians. In the right setting today it can be a fabulous retro move. But if you do choose an intricate design, keep other embellishments and intricacies to a minimum, as in this room, so that there’s not too much busyness. Beware of features competing for attention versus complementing each other.


Description: I like the dark paint higher up.

This room is decidedly Victorian, with just a few modern and transitional touches to save it from being stuffy in tone. 

Modern elements:

  • carpet
  • shower
  • transparent curtains

Victorian elements:

  • clawfoot bathtub
  • side chair
  • table and gilded accessories
  • towel shelf
  • floor tiles
  • dark brown paint

Transitional elements:

  • chandelier
  • white wainscoting

The freestanding tub with its little legs and exposed pipes is typically Victorian, and is utterly charming to today’s eye. But just be warned – water gets colder quicker in such baths, so decide if that’s a deal breaker or not before purchasing one.

Chandeliers come in such a variety of styles these days – from the ultra-modern to the antique there is pretty much one for every type of décor style you choose. The Victorian era spanned roughly 1840 - 1900, so there’s no one typically Victorian chandelier style, but if you do want an ‘authentically’ Victorian chandelier then we suggest you opt for one with lamps or candles on it (even if they’re the faux kind) rather than an obviously electric one. A more modern chandelier could alternatively be chosen as your transitional item, as in this bathroom.

So are you inspired? We are! Please give us a shout if you have any queries or comments, or if you’d like to share your home makeover plans. Then we’ll get excited with you!


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